ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska utility has postponed a long-awaited decision on increasing the availability of natural gas for businesses and residents in the Fairbanks area through bond sales.
Board members of the Interior Gas Utility decided Tuesday not to vote on a resolution authorizing up to $78 million in revenue bonds, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday.
The bonds would have funded expansion of the utility’s small Titan LNG plant at Point MacKenzie in Southcentral Alaska.
Utility General Manager Dan Britton said during a video conference with board members that he was rescinding a recommendation to approve the project because of broad financial uncertainties stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I continue to believe that utility-owned liquefaction is best, but we cannot ignore the short-term realities of these unprecedented times,” Britton said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.
The Titan LNG expansion project would quadruple the plant’s gas liquefaction capacity.
The final decision was meant to be the culmination of more than six years of work on the $330 million Interior Energy Project to provide more natural gas to the Fairbanks area.
The effort began with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s examination of a North Slope LNG plant.
The plan was scrapped following an economic evaluation. The analysis concluded high North Slope construction costs would result in gas prices that would be too expensive to entice residents and businesses to convert from wood and fuel oil.
Britton’s recommendation to pause the bond sale came as oil prices worldwide fell to new lows because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The utility’s board did not set a new date to revisit the Titan plant expansion.